Covington, KY

Covington's Most Beautiful Cathedral

Anita Durairaj

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

To outsiders of the state, Kentucky is known as the home of the Kentucky Derby, bourbon, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. These are things that are unique to Kentucky but there is more to Kentucky than meets the eye.

Just a few years ago, I was a resident of Newport, Kentucky. Newport’s neighbor is a city in Kenton County called Covington.

Covington is the largest city in Northern Kentucky and it is surprisingly a source of some unique things to see and do in the Northern Kentucky region. Driving through Covington, I chanced upon the most beautiful church building in the region. This is one of the most unique buildings in Covington and it is called the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption. 

Background

Tripadvisor has ranked the St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption as the number one place to see in Covington. It is also listed as a U.S. National Register of Historic Places. 

The cathedral is a minor basilica. This gives the church certain privileges that can only be conferred by a papal brief. The minor basilica title is only conferred to important churches and has to do with its age, history, and significance.

The cathedral is inspired by the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Abbey Church of St. Denis in Paris. It has the world’s largest handmade stain glass window (67 foot by 24 foot) which was created by a German company and installed in 1911. There are a total of 82 stained glass windows.

The cathedral was designed by Leon Coquard who was both an artist and an architect. He collaborated with Bishop Camillus Paul Maes to begin the construction of the cathedral in 1895.

It has been described as 

a little Notre Dame Cathedral in Kentucky

The church is absolutely beautiful with its stained glass windows and mosaics. It also has 32 gargoyles which were carved in Italy. In my opinion, it can stand its ground with other major cathedrals found in Europe.

What’s interesting about the cathedral is that the construction remains technically unfinished. Also, most people are just surprised to see a building that is as beautiful as this in Covington.

The Cathedral Today

When I visited the church, there were guided and self-guided tours. During the guided tours, you get to hear information about the architecture of the church and its stained glass. Currently, the cathedral is home to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington. 

Just a few months ago in December 2020, the city of Covington decided to honor the cathedral by renaming 2 blocks near the church as “Cathedral Square.”

To acknowledge an art and architectural gem that will be treasured for centuries.

Before Covid-19 struck, the cathedral hosted the Cathedral Concert series dedicated to Western and classical religious music. The cathedral also hosts weddings for Catholic members and it has an endowment fund that supports the preservation of the building.

At this time, the cathedral requests that visitors wear masks/face coverings and practice social distancing inside the building. This set of rules are written up in their Protocols for Celebrating the Liturgy amid Covid19.

Due to the upcoming Easter on April 4, 2021, the cathedral has lined up a Holy Week Schedule. Reservations are not required but there will be mass on consecutive days of Palm Sunday, a Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. There will be limited seating and some of the mass programs will be live-streamed. 

Even if you are not a Catholic, the cathedral should be on your must-see list of things in Covington and Northern Kentucky.

Sources: Spectrum News 1, Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Wikipedia

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